Anorexia in Ballet

Anorexia affects over 24 million people worldwide. 9% percent of The United States of America’s population has some sort of eating disorder, and that statistic is even higher is ballet dancers, 84% . This essay will explore why the statistic is higher in dancers and the connection between success and being extremely thin. Anorexia and bulimia are both very harsh psychological and physiological disorders. Anorexia is diagnosed when someone’s body weight is twenty percent below the expected body weight of a healthy person at the same age and height; they show severe malnutrition and believe that they are overweight.

There are many causes of Anorexia and Bulimia, but these physiological diseases are usually based off of a couple things. Pressures, for example photos young girls may see on TV, in magazines and online. They may feel like compared to people around them they are more hefty and need to be at the same level as everyone else. The need for perfection: perfectionists have the need for flawlessness in all aspects of their life, including their weight.

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Another possible cause is the need for control, for example a teenage girl feeling like her parents control her life, they tell her what she can do when she can do it and how.

She feels like the only thing in her life she can control is her weight. An internal motivation is depression, where people feel so bad about themselves they don’t feel like they are worth anything. So they starve themselves. In ballet, children can start dancing from as young as 4 years old.

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From the very beginning they are taught that being thin is key to succeeding in life. Ballet dancers, boys and girls and pressured from many different directions. What we can say is that the studies referenced here indicate that ballet dancers are a high risk group in terms of the development of ED’s .

Yes, this is acknowledged in The Royal Ballet School’s Eating Disorders Policy and it warns : “The likelihood of these conditions occurring amongst students at The Royal Ballet School is increased because of a common tendency amongst young aspiring dancers to conform to a perceived stereotype of the ‘perfect dancer’, despite the policies of the School which give clear guidance concerning appropriate dietary habits and expectations. ” The School’s strategy is to monitor students closely for warning signs. Dancers look up to their teachers they are their mentors.

Ballet students are less likely to become anorexic or bulimic if their teachers are supportive and do not pressure them to be thin. Parents are also very influential when it comes to weight, if a parent tells their child the need to lose weight they will, because when you’re growing up you automatically think your parents are right. The media is also a pressure; the images young people are exposed to that are considered beautiful in today’s society are always thin and flawless, most believe that is the standard they need to meet.

For teenage girls, becoming women they want to impress boys. Girls always want to be the “prettiest” girl and from what everyone are telling them, Thin is pretty. There are many things that can lead young people to an eating disorder, that’s why I think is so important to educate young people about how to be healthy instead of being thin. There are extreme consequences to having bulimia and anorexia; Dehydration, kidney stones, and kidney failure may result in death. Liver damage (made worse if substance abuse is also a factor) may result in death.

Menstruation often stops, even before extensive weight loss. This is called amenorrhea and can lead to infertility and bone loss (osteoporosis). Muscles waste away, resulting in weakness and loss of function. Slowed digestion caused by a lack of energy and diminished body function results in bowel irritation and constipation. Permanent loss of bone calcium leads to fractures and lifelong problems of osteoporosis. The person becomes intolerant to cold (especially in the hands and feet), and has sunken eyes, hair loss, bloating, and dry skin.

The immune system weakens. Skin becomes dry and blotchy and has an unhealthy gray or yellow cast. Anemia and malnutrition may result. Fainting spells, sleep disruption, bad dreams, and mental fuzziness may result. Almost 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression. Only 1 in 10 men and women with eating disorders receive treatment. Only 35% of people that receive treatment for eating disorders get treatment at a specialized facility for eating disorders.

Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder) in the U. S . Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. If someone has an eating disorder of course, not all hope is lost. There are ways you can treat it. In Morningside’s eating disorder treatment program through our Healthy Living Program, clients learn to express feelings and live in harmony with themselves. They learn skill-sets that are flexible and appropriate to change.

Residential treatment provides a supportive and powerful peer group that understands the emotional challenges of recovering from bulimia, anorexia nervosa, or binge eating. By living together with continuous therapeutic support, clients practice making healthy decisions. The program is a natural link to the larger society and each client’s goals and plans. Quoted from one of many treatment centers around the world, Morningside. Eating disorders are serious illnesses, the dance and ballet community and people everywhere need to be aware. This world should promote being healthy. Not drastically thin.

Cite this page

Anorexia in Ballet. (2016, Sep 20). Retrieved from

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